Help! My knees buckle when I jog


DR FLO: Help! My knees buckle when I jog

Sometimes both legs are affected to the extent that I can’t walk.

Dr Flo,

Every time I jog for a long distance I get sharp pains on the sides of my knees. I have been jogging for a while and I have never had a leg injury. Sometimes both legs are affected to the extent that I can’t walk. Kindly help. Musyoka

Dear Musyoka,
The knee pain could be due to the strain when jogging, or a result of an injury you suffered. It can also be due to an underlying problem in the knee like arthritis, gout or osteoporosis.

The knee is the largest joint in the body. It is made up of bone, cartilage, joint fluid (synovium) and some discs called menisci. The bones are connected by ligaments, tendons and muscles. Any of these could be damaged and cause the pain.

This could be due to tear in the menisci or the ligaments, sprain, strain or inflammation of the ligaments and tendons, or inflammation of the sacs of fluid that cushion the knee (bursitis). Serious injury can also cause joint dislocation or fracture of the bones.

Due to the regular jogging, the pain is most likely due to overuse of the knees, leading to inflammation and strain of the tissues of the knee.

To manage this, you need to rest the knees and not jog for long, use a knee support or a knee brace, and use hot or cold packs when there is a lot of pain.

You would also benefit from pain killers and physical therapy. You also need to visit an orthopaedic specialist and have some tests like an MRI scan of the knee done, so that a proper diagnosis can be made. If there is an underlying problem, like gouty arthritis, you will be started on the appropriate treatment.

Damage due to use over time or due to overuse cannot be reversed, but it can be managed. The most important thing is to prevent further damage by avoiding overuse.

***

Dr Flo, I am 28 years old. Sometimes when I cough stinking balls come out of my throat. When I wake up in the morning, my saliva stinks. What could be the problem? Zachs

Dear Zachs,
The foul-smelling white or yellow balls from the throat are called tonsil stones or tonsiloliths.

The tonsils are lymphatic glands in the throat and they have an irregular surface. Bacteria, mucus, dead cells, and food particles can become trapped in the folds on the surface of the tonsils.

The trapped substances then coalesce together and form the foul-smelling chunks. If these chunks harden or calcify, they are called tonsil stones or tonsiloliths. Tonsil stones are more common in people with chronic tonsillitis, those with sinusitis and those with post-nasal drip.

These stones may cause bad breath, bad taste in the mouth, throat discomfort, difficulty swallowing or ear pain. Other than this discomfort, tonsil stones are usually not dangerous.

To manage them, observe good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth after meals, gargle using salt water or a mouth wash to reduce the throat discomfort and bad breath, or have the stones removed by a doctor.

Before brushing your teeth, remove food particles from your mouth by drinking water and by swishing water in your mouth and spitting out.

A permanent solution is to have the tonsils removed, if there is also recurrent inflammation of the tonsils. If you have sinusitis, this should also be treated by an ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist.

***

Dr Flo,

My menses are irregular due to hormonal imbalance. The last time I had a period was September, and pregnancy tests have been negative. There was a time I had a terrible backache but I’m not sure if it is linked to my menses. Please help me understand what is happening. Judith


Dear Judith,
The menstrual cycle is different for every woman, but menses can occur every 21 to 42 days, and can last from two to eight days.

Menses are considered irregular if the time between one period and the next changes significantly, if the number of days when you are on your period changes a lot or if the amount of bleeding changes a lot.

The menstrual cycle occurs due to changes in the levels of oestrogen and progesterone, causing the different phases of the cycle. If something causes a problem with these hormones, then there is a hormonal imbalance and the cycle is disturbed.

The changes can happen due to pregnancy, breastfeeding, hormonal medication, stress, too much exercise, severe weight change (losing or adding a lot of weight), thyroid disease or polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Sometimes, irregular periods could be due to problems in the uterus like uterine polyps, fibroids, or severe scar tissue formation in the uterus (Asherman syndrome). The backache may or may not be related to your menses.

You need to visit a gynaecologist so that you can be examined and some tests like hormone levels and a pelvic ultrasound done. This will help figure out the exact cause of the imbalance so that you can be treated appropriately.

Send your medical questions to [email protected] for absolutely free expert advice